Principal Causes Of Poor Livestock Performance Biology Essay


In most developing countries, animal disease remains one of the principal causes of poor livestock performance that leads to an increasing gap between the supply and demand of livestock products (Agrawal, 1995). Government veterinary services in East Africa have for the last 40-50 years had the mandate to do clinical and preventive veterinary medicine. Such services can function well when sufficiently funded in terms of drug supply, transport and staff incentives. Unfortunately the resources available to run government veterinary services have not been maintained and veterinary departments cannot afford the rising cost within the veterinary sector. This has given rise to under provision of government veterinary services to livestock raisers.

This means that livestock owners cannot adequately rely on veterinary services for the control of livestock diseases making many of them turn to medicinal plants. Medicinal plants are an integral component of ethno-veterinary medicine in the rural areas. Farmers and pastoralists in several countries use medicinal plants in the maintenance of the healthcare of livestock (Wanyama, 1997). Ethno-veterinary research has recently been the focus of renewed interest in scientific debate and the formulation of animal healthcare policies in the world. This is the result of recent concerns following the discovery of dioxin contamination in chicken in Belgium (FAO, 2000).

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Interest in evidence-based veterinary plant-therapy is growing continuously in the many countries due to increased interest in complementary and alternative medicines. The use of indigenous knowledge especially that of ethno-botanists, has received considerable attention in recent years as more than 30% of modern drugs are derived from plants (McCorkle,1995).

To-date, documentations on the use of indigenous knowledge in management of veterinary ailments in Uganda have been limited and information on veterinary herbal medicine has not been systematically documented, yet ethno veterinary medicine could be used to a great advantage in control of helminthiasis in the face of drug resistance in the socio-cultural framework of resource poor farmers for sustainable livestock production.

This study shall be undertaken to identify and document indigenous practices by rural farming communities, specifically how these farmers can recognize and manage diseases in livestock without the use of conventional medicines

1.2 Background

Amolatar district in the past 30 years had a very large healthy cattle population consisting majorly of the zebu and Boran breeds. However between 1987-1988, there was a serious cattle raid in the district by the Karamojong and nearly all cattle population in the district was swept off by the raid. After a while, a few farmers started establishing new herds by purchasing cattle from neighbouring districts mostly Nakasongola district and now coupled with various government programmes like the livelihood programme of NUSAF and NAADS programmes like restocking of animals for traction, and other interventions from NGOs, the cattle population has grown larger.

However, through the 30 years of recovery from the cattle loss, population has also grown larger. This has led to more developmental projects that have resulted into the clearing of vegetation and environmental dilapidation due to artificial and natural factors. The trend of socio economic development is resulting into reduction in plant species diversity. This, coupled with the with the death of true traditional herbalists of the 1970s with their knowledge undocumented represents a major threats to its survival and yet such knowledge could still be very important in the development of new conventional medicines besides guiding the conservation of endangered plant species of ethnoveterinary importance.

It is upon these observations that the researcher has been inspired and motivated to carry out a study to find out and document the various plants of ethnoveterinay importance in Etam subcounty, Amolatar district

1.3 Problem statement

In many countries, there has been little documentation of traditional knowledge; rather, it has been transmitted across generations by an oral tradition and based on individuals' memories and therefore is in danger of extinction. The result has been the great loss of very vital knowledge (Nossin, 1996). This situation is more critical in the case of ethno-veterinary medicine which is confined to very few pastoralists or herbalists within livestock rearing communities. The rapid socio-economic, ecological and technological changes in tropical countries have led to the disuse or loss of traditional knowledge. It is further anticipated that the rate of this knowledge crumble and disappearance is alarming worldwide and may worsen if precautions are not taken (Martin, 1996).

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Environmental degradation due to artificial and natural factors results in plant species extinction and together with the death of true traditional herbalists with undocumented knowledge represents two major threats to its survival. While traditional medical practitioners have less to offer in the treatment and control of epidemic and endemic infectious diseases such as foot and mouth disease, they can cope with a reasonable continuum of common diseases such as diarrhea, wounds, colds, worms, coccidiosis, and reproductive disorders in livestock (Wanyama, 1997)

However, very little of this traditional knowledge has been documented in developing countries, and ethno-veterinary knowledge has had no place in mainstream veterinary medicine yet livestock owners have an excellent knowledge of ethno-botany. This can form the basis for screening plant materials as potential sources of medical drugs (Satrija,1995).

Documentation of various herbal preparations used by local cattle keepers is therefore necessary because it will ensure that traditional knowledge on ethno-veterinary is available for the present and preserved for the future generations.

1.4 Justification

Ethno-veterinary knowledge can be used as a starting point for drug and technology development. Ideally, information obtained from local people should be used within the communities of its origin to ensure that the local people benefit from their own knowledge. Alternatively a selected remedy can be improved outside of the community through pharmacological and clinical research and then returned with, 'value-added', to its place of origin (Mathias, 1994).Identification of plants used as medicine is fundamental in drug validation and development(WHO, 2000).

Knowledge of different aspects of medicinal plants such as endangered species can be used as a basis to entrance hall for policies and legalization that ensure protection of the local flora from overexploitation and secure the intellectual property rights. Knowledge of medicinal plants can be used in the establishment of ethno-veterinary projects that stimulate conservation measures and development of herbal gardens to maintain biodiversity, (Martin, 2001). 

Ethno-veterinary medicine can contribute to biodiversity monitoring and evaluation. Farmers are commonly aware of the abundance of medicinal plants growing in their area. This knowledge can serve as the baseline for monitoring the effects of increased plant use on the local flora(Lans, 2001).Knowledgeable livestock keepers and local healers are repositories of knowledge and valuable partners in community-based animal healthcare and other livestock development activities(Mathias, 1994) thus aiding in development of efforts aimed at improving animal husbandry

Besides, the overlap between natural resources traditionally used as medicines for both humans and animals may be indicative of the efficacy of these remedies

1.5 Objectives

1.5.1 General objective

Ethnoveterinary survey of Etam subcounty for documentation of traditional knowledge and folk wisdom of veterinary herbal medicines and poisonous plants.

1.5.2 Specific objectives

To identify the various medicinal plants used in livestock disease treatment.

To document the preparation and administration of herbal medicine for livestock.

To assess the abundance and diversity of medicinal plants

Start exchange of knowledge on ethnoveterinairy medicines between the participating dairy farmers

Identify the endangered ethno veterinary medicinal herbs and develop awareness among tribal and rural people of Amolatar for their conservation.

1.6 Research questions

1. Which medicinal plants are used as ethno-veterinary medicine in maintaining animal healthcare?

2. Which diseases are treated using herbal medicines?

3. How are the herbal medicines prepared and administered?

4. What is the opinion of the local people towards the use of curative plants? Having knowledge is one thing, using it is something else.


2.1 Term and definition

Mathias-Mundy and McCorkle (1989) give the following definition of ethnoveterinary medicine: 'dealing with the folk beliefs, knowledge, skills, methods and practices pertaining to the health care of animals.'

The term ethnoveterinary was introduced in 1986 by Constance M. McCorkle - for which she is called by some 'the grandmother of EVM'. The term recognises the cultural context of traditional practices and marks the beginning of the systematic exploration of local practices for use in development (Mathias, 1996).

Many of the EVM practices have been developed and tested over centuries. Others are newer and use "non-traditional" ingredients such as engine oil and copper sulphate. Some EVM techniques are common knowledge among livestock holders, while others are known only to a few "indigenous professionals" (ITDG and IRR, 1996).

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The term ethnoveterinary medicine may suggest the use of only medicines, in the form of liquids or pills, used directly, internally or externally, on the animal. EVM is much broader than that. It contains a wide variety of skills and techniques: surgical operations, hydro-, physical-, and mechanical techniques, environmental controls, disease prevention, nutrition, herding and related strategies, management of animal genetics and medico-religious acts, among others (McCorkle et al, 2001). Therefore the term ethnoveterinary methods could be a better term.

Examples of practices are acupuncture, vaccinations using skin crusts from sick animals and the use of amulets. Spiritual aspects are associated with EVM, but it is mentioned that these would be very difficult and costly to evaluate or validate, if they should be at all (Source: But in this way, they are neglected quite easily, while they could have a core of truth. Although research may be too costly, they shouldn't be rejected immediately.

2.2 History of Ethnoveterinary Medicine

Veterinary medicine as practised today has roots its roots in herbal medicine, as practiced in prehistory in China, India and the Middle East (Schillhorn van Veen, 1996). The literature indicates that Arabia was the world centre of veterinary and other medical knowledge in the early Middle Ages. With the spread of Islam some of this knowledge made its way into Africa and was adopted by stock raisers (Schillhorn van Veen, 1996). Ethnoveterinary medicine was practised as early as 1800 B.C. at the time of King Hamurabi of Babylon who formulated laws on veterinary fees and charged for treating cattle and donkeys (Schillhorn van Veen, 1996). Traditional veterinary practices have been around for a long time and were the only medicine available until nineteenth century (Mathias-Mundy, McCorkle and Schillhorn van Veen, 1996). Many traditional medicines have been abandoned following the discovery of the modern chemotherapy (Mathias et al, 1996). But for more than a decade now EVM has experienced a revival and several reports have been published. This growing interest in traditional practices had been encouraged by the recognition of some efficacious EVM products (Anjaria, 1988). EVM often provides cheaper options than comparable western drugs, and the products are locally available and more easily accessible. In the face of these and other factors, there is increasing interest in the field of ethno veterinary research and development.

2.3. Ethnoveterinary versus conventional medicine

Next to EVM there is the so-called 'conventional' medicine, by which the modern western-style veterinary medicine, with the use of modern synthetic drugs, is meant. But in fact, as the term "conventional" may suggest "traditional", this term doesn't give a good view of the real development. The 'real' traditional veterinary practices are the ones that were used before the advent of the "conventional" chemotherapy (Mathias, 1996). From then on, the western world has promoted the use of conventional medicine in developing countries, at the cost of the local practices.

Only nowadays the use of EVM receives more and more attention in developing and developed countries. In many cases because EVM proves to be more economical and practical: when synthetic drugs become too expensive or unavailable as a result of failing financial supports, economic reality takes over.

In many projects, EVM is seen as a goal in itself. It is then extracted from the local situation and investigated, without paying much attention to the rest of the situation. It is then seen as an "independent" method. EVM however, is part of the situation and should be seen from a holistic point of view, as a part of the total environment. (Not only medicines, but also proper nutrition and disease prevention).

Following, strengths and weaknesses of EVM in relation to conventional medicine will be given:

Strengths of EVM

• Easily administered, usually topically or orally

• Freely available or at a cost in proportion to the value of the animal

• Livestock keepers are already familiar with it, it is what they use now

• Locally available

• Usually cheaper than conventional treatments

• Less reliance on expensive, distant outside professionals

• Works more lasting and more total than conventional medicine

• Natural, no residues

• Avoids antibiotic resistance

• Can be used without veterinary supervision and is good first-aid

Weaknesses EVM

• Cures are variable in their effectiveness and availability according to season, method of preparation, etc.

• From a technical standpoint some are totally ineffective

• Few methods have been validated in the same way in which synthetic drugs must be validated

• EVM has little to offer against the acute viral diseases

• EVM works slower than conventional medicine

• In some cases less effective than conventional drugs

• Not always practical on a large scale: may require considerable amounts of roots, leaves or seeds

• Sometimes less convenient to use than conventional drugs

• Stock raisers sometimes complain about the time it takes to obtain and prepare traditional medicines (McCorkle, 2001)

2.4 Current Interest in Ethnoveterinary Veterinary Medicine.

The recent revival of western interest in EVM has followed the regained interest in alternative medicines. There has been considerable expansion in the use of local knowledge practices in both humans and animals. This is evident in the USA where the number of people visiting traditional healers in 1988 was more than those visiting primary care physicians (Einsenberg, Kessler, Foster, Norlock, Calckanis and Delbanco, 1993). In the light of this, and related developments, orthodox veterinarians are now accepting traditional knowledge. For example, acupuncture for treating diseases in animals is now widely embraced in conventional veterinary medicine in USA (NIH, 1995). In addition, the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) has fully recognised some of the local veterinary knowledge as acceptable for use by a valid veterinarian (Schillhorn van Veen, 1997).

2.5 EVM and different types of diseases

EVM doesn't give equal opportunity in all diseases. (Rita, 2001). Roughly, there are three types of problems:

Acute, life-threatening infections and epidemics - for these diseases conventional medicines such as antibiotics will remain the first choice (well-being of animals has priority)

For common diseases and chronic conditions, EVM has much to offer and should be strongly considered as an alternative or complement to modern treatments. This is especially true because some antibiotics and other drugs have been overused, stimulating resistance among micro-organisms and leaving dangerous residues in meat, milk and groundwater

For problems such as ticks and trypanosomiasis, neither modern nor EVM alone provides a satisfactory solution. A combination of modern and local remedies and practices might be best

In case of the diseases in group 1, even though EVM can not attack pathogenic agents directly, EVM can be used to enhance animal nutrition, soften painful or debilitating symptoms, or stimulate positive physiological responses (McCorkle et al, 2001).

Examples of these are: colds, skin diseases/ conditions (wounds, mange, lice, fleas and leeches), eye diseases, worms, wounds, reproductive disorders (retained placenta), nutritional deficiencies, mild diarrhoea, parasitism.

The usefulness of EVM depends also on the stage of the disease. Conventional medicine in general works faster and can therefore be necessary when the disease is already in a more advanced stage.

2.6 Ethnoveterinary approaches in disease etiology and diagnosis

In EVM diseases are diagnosed by palpating looking and smelling (Bizimana, 1994).Some ethno-diagnostic methods are useful and have found their way into orthodox veterinary medicine. A good example is seen with camel healers in Niger who use the scent of an animal's expired air to diagnose most of the diseases (Curason, 1947) as cited in T.W. Schillhorn van Veen, 1996). In other areas of the world, surra (camel trypanosomiasis) is diagnosed by mixing the urine of the sick animal with mud and assessing the dried mud (Kohler-Rollefson, 1996). This is supported by Bizimana (1994) who also indicated that diagnosis by smelling is useful in the case of trypanosomiasis in camels. In India, a pregnancy diagnosis is done by placing cereal seeds in the urine of animal under test - a positive diagnosis is considered when germination does not take place (Reddy, 1998). As in ethnoveterinary system globally (McCorkle, 1986), stock raisers classify most diseases according to their prominent clinical signs. Such examples are seen with Samburu herders who call Nairobi Sheep Disease (NSD) nadomanyita referring to red intestines due to bloody diarrhoea, which is the principal, clinical sign of the disease (Haffernan, Haffernan and Stem, 1996).

2.7 Importance of medicinal plants

Medicinal plants are generally referred to as those plants that provide people with medicines to prevent disease, maintain health or cure ailments (Farnsworth, 1991). Plants have been used as sources of medicine from ancient times (Yesilada, 2005). Plant based systems continue to play an essential role in health care (Chivian, 2002). Apart from providing building materials, fodder, weapons and other commodities, plants are especially important as traditional medicines (Sidigia, 1990). They also comprise the largest component of the diverse therapeutic elements of traditional livestock health care practices. Plants are an integral part of life in many indigenous communities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as many as 80% of the world population relies on traditional medicine mainly based on plant products.

The use of ethno-botanical findings has received increasing attention in the field of drug search and development (king, 1992). Many of the active ingredients in chemically manufactured drugs are derived from plant compounds.

Furthermore, an increasing reliance on the use of medicinal plants in the industrialized societies has been traced to the extraction and development of several drugs and chemotherapeutics from these plants as well as from traditionally used rural herbal remedies (UNESCO, 1998). It is estimated that today, plant materials are present in or have provided the models for 50% modern drugs (Robbers, 1996). Medicinal plants constitute a source of valuable foreign exchange for most developing countries, as they are a ready source of drugs such as quinine.

Trade in medicinal plants is growing in volume and in exports. It is estimated that the global trade in medicinal plants is US$800 million per year. Medicinal plants are an integral component of ethno-veterinary medicine. Farmers and pastoralists in several countries use medicinal plants in the maintenance and conservation of the healthcare of livestock. Intestinal disorders in cows, in Mexico for example, are treated with herbal extracts of Polakowskia tobacco. It is believed that medicinal plants have for several centuries been widely used as a primary source of prevention and control of livestock diseases.

2.8 Ethno-veterinary medicine in livestock development

The role of ethno-veterinary medicine in livestock development is beyond dispute (Martin,2001). A great number of professionals from varied fields have over the past years recognized, valued, documented and ethnocentrically studied the potential effectiveness of the traditional animal health care practices embodied in native and local communities. Traditional knowledge alive in ethno-medicine, constitutes an untapped resource of potentially useful information for possible deployment in sustainable animal health management systems in rural communities all over the world (Mathias, 2004).Ethno-veterinary medicine covers the knowledge, skills, methods, practices and beliefs about the care of their animals (McCorkle, 1986).

Farmers inhabiting different ecological zones use different plants and plant parts in their treatment medical store. The pharmaceutical value and concentration of active ingredients in each plant varies depending on climatic and soil factors. This makes the knowledge base differ from region to region and between communities. In southern turkana, Kenya, over 80 species are used as ethno-veterinary medicine (Bussmann,2001). The most-used botanical families in the Mediterranean area include, Asteraceae, Lamiaceae, Fabaceae, Apiaceae for the maintenance of livestock health (Andrea, 2003).

Like any other type of medicine, ethno-veterinary medicine has both limitations and strengths (Mathias, 2001). This includes difficulty in preparation and use and also certain plants are available only at certain times of the year. Herbal medicine dosages are uncertain and are not standard. Herbal medicine has a lower cost for its medication and consultations than that of industrially produced pharmaceutical medicine (Romulo, 2007). Because of the illiteracy, local/native healers and animal owners are not in a position to distinguish between the various types of industrial medicines and understand their underlying principle of administration and action (Rathore, 1997). They do not however encounter such kind of problems with herbal medicine, and hence consider it to be their best alternative. Traditional medicine has no harmful effects in most cases and it has locally available manpower, materials and equipments and good rapport in view of long association (Romulo, 2007)

2.9 Biodiversity and traditional medicine

Wild populations of numerous species are exploited around the globe, the demand created by the traditional herbal medicine being one of the causes of the over exploitation (Alves, 2005).Forest degradation in the Brazilian Amazon has for example, diminished the availability of some widely used medicinal plant species. Degradation of Amazonian forests may signify not only the loss of potential pharmaceutical drugs for the developed world but also the erosion of the sole health care option for many of Brazil's rural and urban poor (Shanley, 2003). This scenario is similar for many developing countries.

Transformation of natural ecosystems through human economic activities has been exerting severe constraints on the availability and accessibility of plant species used for medicinal purposes. As forests are degraded into savanna, savanna to scrublands and bushes, and scrublands to desert characteristics in many parts of the third world, certain species of plants are disappearing altogether. Such a situation poses problems for the future practice of herbal medicine. With a few exceptions, all medicines are made from concoctions prepared with plants, plant organs or their secreted products (Romulo, 2007).The value of biodiversity is seen in the pharmaceutical industries, which manufacture drugs from plant species. Over 50% of commercially available drugs are based on bioactive compounds extracted from plant species (Grifo, 1997). This study shall therefore be conducted in Etam subcounty under the fore stated background.


3.1 Sampling design and study area

3.1.1 Location

Amolatar District is a district in Northern Uganda. It is bordered by Apac District to the north, Dokolo District to the northeast, Kaberamaido District to the east, Buyende District to the southeast, Kayunga District to the south and Nakasongola District to the west. The administrative headquarters of the district at Amolatar, are located 85 kilometres (53 miles), by road, south of Lira, the largest city in the sub-region. The coordinates of the district are:01 38N, 32 50E.

3.1.2Overview of the district

It was formed in 2005, when it was carved out of Lira District. The district is part of the Lango sub-region, together with the other seven (7) districts constituting the Lango , subregion. These include; Amolatar District, Alebtong District, Apac District, Dokolo District, Kole District, Lira District, Oyam District and Otuke District

In all, the district contains three hundred and forty six (346) villages, organized into thirty three (33) parishes. The district covers an area of approximately 1,581.77 square kilometres (610.72 sq mi). Administratively, the district is divided into the following administrative units:

Amolatar Town Council

Muntu Sub-county - 426.16 square kilometres

Awelo Sub-county - 377.20 square kilometres

Etam subcounty -118 square kilometers

Namasale Sub-county - 524.18 square kilometres

Aputi Sub-county - 254.23 square kilometres

District Total area - 1,581.77 square kilometres (610.72 sq mi)

3.1.3 Demographics and livelihood

The 2002 national census estimated the population of the district at approximately 97,400. The district population is growing at an estimated annual rate of 3%. It is estimated that the population of the district in 2010 was approximately 123,400. See table below:

3.1.4 Economic activities

Subsistence agriculture, animal husbandry and commercial fishing from area lakes constitute the economic engine of the district. Livestock raised in the district includes: Cattle, goats, chicken turkeys. The varieties of crops grown majorly include cereals, oil seed crops and root crops

Weather and climate

Amolatar has no distinct temperature seasons; the temperature is relatively constant during the year. January is warmest with an average temperature of 32.5 °C at noon. August is coldest with an average temperature of 16.8 °C at night. Temperatures drop sharply at night. December is on average the month with most sunshine. Rainfall and other precipitation peaks around November. The time around February is driest Amolatar has a humid (> 0.65 p/pet) climate with an average elevation of 1,033 meter above sea level.. The landscape is mostly covered with closed to open shrubland. The climate is classified as a tropical savanna (winter dry season), , with a subtropical moist forest biozone . The soil in the area is high in ferralsols, acrisols, nitosols (fr), soil composed of kaolinite and quartz, enriched in fe and al oxides.

3.1.6 Population sampling

Sampling shall be done purposively in consultation with local authorities (LCI & II) for traditional herbalists and farmers with knowledge in ethnoveterinary medicine . From this, a final sampling shall be made of 80 people using the snowball technique to give a representation of 10 people per parish for the 8 parishes of Etam subcounty since it would best give opportunity to specific Locate hidden populations

3.2 Observational design

Field ethnoveterinay data shall be collected from a total of 50 correspondents using semi structured interviews and questionnaires. The interviews shall be based on the checklist of questions prepared before in English and translated in the local language whish is "Luo" and appropriate responses shall be entered in the predesigned questionnaires for feedback. Data from botanical identification centres shall be captured in appropriate record sheets and later integrated with the questionnaires for analysis

3.3 Operational design (data collection)

After sampling, the correspondents shall be called for a brief induction training at their various parishes in which they shall receive training on collection of plants for identification and subsequent data shall be collected during mini conferences that shall be organized at parish levels. During this conferences, the correspondents shall come along with their ethnobotanical sample to submit for botanical identification which shall be submitted to the herbarium in Makerere University for identification

3.4 Statistical design

Data collected from the field shall be analysed using descriptive statistical procedures of central tendencies like mean and mode to determine which plants are most associated to particular diseases, most aboundant, and most effective and also to identify those that are greatly threatened to extinction and also to determine the challenges faced in attempting to apply ethnoveterinary medicine.

3.5 Data presentation

Data shall be summarized in terms of percentages to identify plants used most frequently inveterinary medicine, based on the frequency of association of a particular plant species with a particular or perceived medicinal value (botanical consistency). Also the frequency of a particular plant species being associated with or used to treat a particular disease (consistency of veterinary usage) was determined